Her name was Federlina. Her wrinkled face, callused hands and raspy voice tell you she has lived a full life. How old is she? Your guess is as good as mine, I’m not sure she even knows. She’s lived in the same mud brick house her entire life. Her husband is long gone. Her children have moved to the big city and rarely ever visit. Her cattle that she still takes care of graze in a field a couple miles away – she makes the walk everyday to check on them, it’s as routine as my drive to work. She lives in the Andes’ mountains, in a town of 200 people, has never searched on Google or sent an email and she doesn’t know Jesus. I met her the first time I went with Grant Avenue to Peru two years ago.
Don’t get me wrong, she’s religious. She lives in a village where the majority of people claim some form of Catholicism. A couple times a year there will be religious festivals to honor a saint or maybe even Jesus. For most of the people in the town, the festivals have little to do with God and are more of ritualistic celebration, an excuse to drink. Federlina doesn’t get drunk during the festivities though, in her words own words she said, “I’m a good person.”
I’m reminded of a few verses in Colossians 2:16-17.
Therefore do not let any one judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.
A shadow can tell you something of reality, but it isn’t the object itself. That’s what the festivals, new moon celebrations and even the Sabbath are. They are shadows – Jesus is reality.
Federlina knew the shadows well. She knows the festivals. She knows the Christian stories but she doesn’t know Jesus. Every time we would share the gospel with her and think she understood she would say, “but I have always been a good person.”
Sometimes our religion gets in the way of us actually seeing Jesus. Sometimes we get captivated by the shadows of Jesus and not Jesus himself. This time of year might be the easiest to get captivated by the shadow. There will be Christmas parties and presents will be exchanged but I wonder sometimes if we lose sight of Jesus. We are good at celebrating Christmas but are we celebrating the shadow or reality?
My heart breaks for Federlina because she only knows the shadow, she doesn’t know reality. But you and I know reality – Jesus Christ. The question is, will you celebrate the shadow or the reality this Christmas?